By Peter Knegt | Indiewire March 22, 2009 at 5:25AM
According to estimates provided by Rentrak this afternoon, Matt Tyrnauer’s “Valentino: The Last Emperor," a doc on legendary designer Valentino Garavani, led a surge of specialty openers this weekend. The film, released independently through Truly Indie, grossed an impressive $20,329 from its exclusive engagement at New York City's Film Forum. Since opening Wednesday, the film has grossed $31,737 (including nearly $6,000 on its opening night), making it the highest doc debut of 2009, and boding well for its upcoming expansion (the film heads to Chicago next weekend, followed by LA and San Francisco).
Behind "Valentino" was the release of Steve McQueen's acclaimed "Hunger", which also opened on a lone NYC screen (IFC Center). The IFC Films release - which had an Oscar qualifying run back in December - grossed a respectable $13,565, making it IFC's second biggest debut of the year (behind February's "Gomorrah," which averaged over $20,000). Finding similar numbers was Focus Features' release of Cary Joji Fukunaga's "Sin Nombre". The film grossed $77,403 from six screens for a $12,900 average.
On a Focus Features-related aside, "Coraline" dropped just 21% in its seventh weekend (despite losing 337 theaters), the smallest of any wide release. Its stunning $72,803,000 cume is just $10 million shy of "Brokeback Mountain"'s Focus Features record.
Meanwhile, Christine Jeffs' "Sunshine Cleaning" continued to exert potential to become 2009's first real limited-release breakout after last weekend's massive debut. Expanding to 64 screens, the film grossed $705,161 for a $11,018 average. That takes the Overture Films release's total to $993,584 after 10 days.
"The results this weekend were tremendous and it bodes well as we move into wider release in the coming weeks," Kyle Davies, EVP of Theatrical Distribution, Overture Films, told indieWIRE. "I think the great word-of-mouth and a beloved cast are fueling the success of 'Sunshine Cleaning.' We had incredible success last Spring with 'The Visitor,' and we are delighted to see audiences connecting with 'Sunshine Cleaning' this season. 'Sunshine Cleaning' is an uplifting film about a family that overcomes adversity—I think that really resonates with audiences right now."
The film is tracking slightly better than "The Visitor," which ended up grossing $9,427,089. In its second weekend, that film grossed $166,499 from a less aggressive 18 theaters for a $9,249 average.
Next week "Sunshine" will be adding an additional 25 markets and likely a minimum of 100 screens. The wider expansion will be on April 3rd.
Check back with indieWIRE for updated box office results (including numbers for "The Great Buck Howard" and "Skills Like This," which did not report to our server).
indieWIRE:BOT tracks independent/specialty releases compiled from Rentrak Theatrical, which collects studio reported data as well as box-office figures from North American theatre locations. To be included in the indieWIRE Box Office Chart, distributors must submit information about their films to Rentrak at email@example.com by the end of the day each Monday.